published Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Chattanooga: Some City Council members suggest stand-alone Strut event


by Cliff Hightower

Poll
Should the Strut be its own festival?

City Council members tossed around several ideas today to keep the Bessie Smith Strut alive, at one point suggesting the blues-barbecue-beer celebration be its own festival.

“I think it could be a funner event to have a weekend event dedicated to jazz,” said Councilwoman Deborah Scott.

The council discussion served as a prelude to residents — estimated to number in the dozens to the hundreds — who are expected to show up tonight at the City Council meeting.

Some will be there to protest Mayor Ron Littlefield’s decision to relocate the Bessie Smith Strut from its traditional venue on M.L. King Boulevard to Ross’s Landing, where other Riverbend Festival events take place. Other people will be at the meeting to oppose a Purpose Built Community that has been proposed at Westside community.

The council’s ideas included having wrist or arm bands for festival attendees; making sure vendors are properly licensed; or having the M.L. King Merchants Association explore buying insurance for the event.

Councilwoman Carol Berz said the event could go on, but the merchant’s association would have to organize it.

“They have to get serious,” she said.

For more information, read tomorrow’s the Times Free Press.

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